A creative alternative to an Outline is a Mind Map. Mind maps work the way the brain works, which is association-driven not linear. When you think of an idea, your thoughts and feelings around that idea may be in the thousands. Each thought may be linked to images, words, or even smells. A mind map helps you explore those linkages and reinforce the relationships that are supportive to your goals. Also, your mind generally thinks in concepts and images not complete sentences.
Since a mind map is visual and shows the connections between key words and concepts, the information is stored in a way that makes it easier to recall later. Additionally, since a mind map starts from the center and works out, it opens avenue of thought that are closed off in an outline. You have freedom to consider more than the one previous thought written on the page. You will find that your mind guides the organization of the ideas rather than the structure of the outline; thereby, encouraging creativity.
MIND MAPPING TIPS
While mind mapping is very individual, here are some of tips that have been proven to work over time:
1. Use just key words, or phrases
2. Start from the center of the page and work out.
3. The center should be a general theme of the map. (I prefer to use a circle for the center theme).
4. Create other centers for sub-themes. (I use squares for second level ideas).
5. Use Print rather script as it makes them more readable
6. If it stands out on the page, it will stand out in your mind.
7. Use arrows to show links between different elements.
8. Explore what's hot in your mind, don't force ideas.
9. Let your ideas flow. Don't judge the thought, just capture it.
POPULAR USES OF MIND MAPS
Think Creatively. Whenever you want to think "outside the box", mind maps can help. You will be amazed at how rapidly the new ideas flow. Every item on your mind map has the potential to generate another mind map.
Take Notes. Mind maps help organize your notes and puts the ideas into context easily. This allows the information to be incorporated into your brain more easily. Use them to take notes for books, lectures, meetings, interviews, or even phone calls.
Memorize. Mind maps are effective in storing new information in your brain in an optimum way for recall. The key words and concepts are appropriately organized into the proper context.
Solve Problems. Mind maps show the relationships between items. Often, the solution to problems lies in resolving the connections between parts. By sharing a mind map with a co-worker or friend, you will be able to communicate issues the way you see them.
Plan. Whether it's a complex project or a vacation, mind maps will enable you to put all of the relevant information down on paper. Then, it's a matter of organizing and connecting all of the mini-projects and assigning responsibility.
Bill Tyler owns the Bubble Planner, a Daily Planner
, writes articles and authored Daily Life Manager. He lives in Texas with his wife of 16 years and their lovable but not so smart dog.